Nebraska town: Is illegal immigration crackdown worth the cost?
Facing costly legal battles with civil rights organizations, the city council in Fremont, Nebraska, may halt a law prohibiting businesses from hiring illegal immigrants.
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“City Councils should not suspend ordinances just because they might be expensive,” says Jessica Levinson, adjunct professor of law at Loyola Law School. “The voters have spoken, and passed this ordinance. Regardless of the merits (or constitutionality) of this particular ordinance, it would set a bad trend if elected bodies start to fail to implement newly passed initiatives,” she says.Skip to next paragraph
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Robert Stern, president of the Center for Governmental studies, agrees. “I have problems with this action by the council since the ordinance was adopted as an initiative measure by the voters,” he says. “The council should have opposed the measure when it was on the ballot,” he says.
Critics of the suits say they amount to intimidation. “The strategy is essentially, ‘You may want to take actions to deal with illegal immigration? It may be what the citizenry wants, but if you try, we’ll bleed you dry in the courts,’“ says Ira Mehlman, spokesman for the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR).
Others say the Fremont City Council is right to look at the costs associated with enacting any kind of legislation.
“Good public policy involves weighing all the costs and benefits of enacting legislation," says Mary Giovagnoli of the American Immigration Council's Immigration Policy Center. "While Fremont may be motivated in this case to suspend the law because of the fear of litigation costs, there are numerous other costs to consider," she says, "including the loss of revenue to the town when people leave, stop supporting local businesses and paying taxes, as well as the psychological impact when a town goes down the road of driving people away."
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